I want to talk about the concept of fairness. The dictionary describes fairness as “impartial and just treatment without favoritism or partiality.”
I remember as a kid being very aware of fairness. Any time my sister or brother got something more than I did, I was quick to remind my folks that it “wasn’t fair.” That never went very well with my parents. As I got older, I expected that teachers, employers, church leaders, and prosecutors would be fair. That did not work out so well for me, either. I was disappointed to learn that the world was not a fair place. My hope, of course, was that God would be the exception and He would rule the world with complete fairness. Unfortunately, I have experienced a sense of disappointment in God. He seems to be part of the unfair system.
So, as an adult, I am confused. There seems to be a lot of unfairness everywhere I look. Let me give you an example. California has amazing and beautiful beaches. Arizona has none. I do not think that is fair. On the other hand, California has earthquakes and Arizona doesn’t. I am sure that doesn’t seem fair to them. On a more serious note, it does not seem fair that good people have bad things happen to them. Why is there a good man dying alone in a hospital? And why is some young innocent child infected with an evil disease like COVID-19? Why?
Having said all of this, sometimes I still feel like a little kid complaining to my parents when I look to God and say something is unfair. Maybe I need to grow up — or get some insight — or some wisdom.
Rabbi Harold Kushner tried to tackle this issue back in the 80s in a book called When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Kushner concludes God is a kind and compassionate God and that He has decided not to use His power to undo nature and human freedom. The rabbi himself suffered the loss of his own 13 year old son.
The coronavirus raises issues of fairness. Being in lockdown in our own homes is unfair. Being frightened to walk into our favorite restaurant seems unfair, too. A loved human being dying alone in a hospital is terribly unfair. In other words, there is plenty of unfairness to go around.
Our faith tells us that God is all powerful. We want Him to right all the wrongs we see in our world. We know He can. We also know, when He does do that, it is called a miracle. True miracles are rare. God’s grace, however, is not rare. It is abundant. Ordinarily, God, in His kindness, gives us the grace we need to handle life and its issues. He gives us Himself so we can cope. And, when it is all over, we see we were never alone.
Now that I am an old guy, I must tell you that I do not really know what fairness is anymore. I do know that I am blessed beyond what I deserve. Someone may think that it is unfair. I know this: God stands by all of us and will use any event of our lives to bring us to heaven. When we get there, it will all be clear.